Communicating with patients from minority backgrounds: Individual challenges experienced by oncology health professionals

Kaaren J. Watts, Bettina Meiser, Elvira Zilliacus, Rajneesh Kaur, Mona Taouk, Afaf Girgis, Phyllis Noami Butow, David A Goldstein, Sandra Hale, Astrid Perry, Sanchia K. Aranda, David W. Kissane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Oncology health professionals (HPs) are increasingly required to care for patients from minority backgrounds. Yet many HPs have not had formal training in how to communicate effectively in culturally diverse settings. More information is needed about the challenges that oncology HPs face in communicating with minority patients to inform the content of formal training programs. This qualitative study aimed to identify oncology nurses' and oncologists' individual experiences and challenges in communicating with patients from minority backgrounds.

Method
Thirty-eight oncology HPs (21 oncology nurses, 12 medical oncologists, and 5 radiation oncologists) were interviewed individually or in focus groups about their experiences communicating with patients from minority backgrounds. The interviews were audio taped and analysed thematically.

Results
The majority of participants (82%) reported varying degrees of uncertainty and discomfort regarding working with minority patients, with many barriers to communication encountered. Participants perceived that minority patients received less emotional support than majority group patients. They experienced challenges in balancing beliefs about patient autonomy with cultural differences regarding the role of the family. Strategies employed by participants to facilitate interactions included: modifying speech, taking more time in consultations, rapport building, and using nonverbal techniques.

Conclusions
Oncology HPs encounter many linguistic and cultural barriers when communicating with minority patients. They need formal training tailored to developing culturally competent communication. Oncology nurses and oncologists could benefit from formal communication skills training focused upon cultural competence during their career development programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Volume26
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Oncology nurses, Health professionals, Minorities, Communication skills, Cultural competence

Cite this

Watts, Kaaren J. ; Meiser, Bettina ; Zilliacus, Elvira ; Kaur, Rajneesh ; Taouk, Mona ; Girgis, Afaf ; Butow, Phyllis Noami ; Goldstein, David A ; Hale, Sandra ; Perry, Astrid ; Aranda, Sanchia K. ; Kissane, David W. / Communicating with patients from minority backgrounds : Individual challenges experienced by oncology health professionals. In: European Journal of Oncology Nursing. 2017 ; Vol. 26. pp. 83-90.
@article{02a338b36f2642b6b3708021b9c41ff1,
title = "Communicating with patients from minority backgrounds: Individual challenges experienced by oncology health professionals",
abstract = "Oncology health professionals (HPs) are increasingly required to care for patients from minority backgrounds. Yet many HPs have not had formal training in how to communicate effectively in culturally diverse settings. More information is needed about the challenges that oncology HPs face in communicating with minority patients to inform the content of formal training programs. This qualitative study aimed to identify oncology nurses' and oncologists' individual experiences and challenges in communicating with patients from minority backgrounds.MethodThirty-eight oncology HPs (21 oncology nurses, 12 medical oncologists, and 5 radiation oncologists) were interviewed individually or in focus groups about their experiences communicating with patients from minority backgrounds. The interviews were audio taped and analysed thematically.ResultsThe majority of participants (82{\%}) reported varying degrees of uncertainty and discomfort regarding working with minority patients, with many barriers to communication encountered. Participants perceived that minority patients received less emotional support than majority group patients. They experienced challenges in balancing beliefs about patient autonomy with cultural differences regarding the role of the family. Strategies employed by participants to facilitate interactions included: modifying speech, taking more time in consultations, rapport building, and using nonverbal techniques.ConclusionsOncology HPs encounter many linguistic and cultural barriers when communicating with minority patients. They need formal training tailored to developing culturally competent communication. Oncology nurses and oncologists could benefit from formal communication skills training focused upon cultural competence during their career development programs.",
keywords = "Oncology nurses, Health professionals, Minorities, Communication skills, Cultural competence",
author = "Watts, {Kaaren J.} and Bettina Meiser and Elvira Zilliacus and Rajneesh Kaur and Mona Taouk and Afaf Girgis and Butow, {Phyllis Noami} and Goldstein, {David A} and Sandra Hale and Astrid Perry and Aranda, {Sanchia K.} and Kissane, {David W.}",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1016/j.ejon.2016.12.001",
language = "English",
volume = "26",
pages = "83--90",
journal = "European Journal of Oncology Nursing",
issn = "1462-3889",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

Watts, KJ, Meiser, B, Zilliacus, E, Kaur, R, Taouk, M, Girgis, A, Butow, PN, Goldstein, DA, Hale, S, Perry, A, Aranda, SK & Kissane, DW 2017, 'Communicating with patients from minority backgrounds: Individual challenges experienced by oncology health professionals' European Journal of Oncology Nursing, vol. 26, pp. 83-90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejon.2016.12.001

Communicating with patients from minority backgrounds : Individual challenges experienced by oncology health professionals. / Watts, Kaaren J.; Meiser, Bettina; Zilliacus, Elvira; Kaur, Rajneesh; Taouk, Mona; Girgis, Afaf; Butow, Phyllis Noami; Goldstein, David A; Hale, Sandra; Perry, Astrid; Aranda, Sanchia K.; Kissane, David W.

In: European Journal of Oncology Nursing, Vol. 26, 2017, p. 83-90.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Communicating with patients from minority backgrounds

T2 - Individual challenges experienced by oncology health professionals

AU - Watts, Kaaren J.

AU - Meiser, Bettina

AU - Zilliacus, Elvira

AU - Kaur, Rajneesh

AU - Taouk, Mona

AU - Girgis, Afaf

AU - Butow, Phyllis Noami

AU - Goldstein, David A

AU - Hale, Sandra

AU - Perry, Astrid

AU - Aranda, Sanchia K.

AU - Kissane, David W.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Oncology health professionals (HPs) are increasingly required to care for patients from minority backgrounds. Yet many HPs have not had formal training in how to communicate effectively in culturally diverse settings. More information is needed about the challenges that oncology HPs face in communicating with minority patients to inform the content of formal training programs. This qualitative study aimed to identify oncology nurses' and oncologists' individual experiences and challenges in communicating with patients from minority backgrounds.MethodThirty-eight oncology HPs (21 oncology nurses, 12 medical oncologists, and 5 radiation oncologists) were interviewed individually or in focus groups about their experiences communicating with patients from minority backgrounds. The interviews were audio taped and analysed thematically.ResultsThe majority of participants (82%) reported varying degrees of uncertainty and discomfort regarding working with minority patients, with many barriers to communication encountered. Participants perceived that minority patients received less emotional support than majority group patients. They experienced challenges in balancing beliefs about patient autonomy with cultural differences regarding the role of the family. Strategies employed by participants to facilitate interactions included: modifying speech, taking more time in consultations, rapport building, and using nonverbal techniques.ConclusionsOncology HPs encounter many linguistic and cultural barriers when communicating with minority patients. They need formal training tailored to developing culturally competent communication. Oncology nurses and oncologists could benefit from formal communication skills training focused upon cultural competence during their career development programs.

AB - Oncology health professionals (HPs) are increasingly required to care for patients from minority backgrounds. Yet many HPs have not had formal training in how to communicate effectively in culturally diverse settings. More information is needed about the challenges that oncology HPs face in communicating with minority patients to inform the content of formal training programs. This qualitative study aimed to identify oncology nurses' and oncologists' individual experiences and challenges in communicating with patients from minority backgrounds.MethodThirty-eight oncology HPs (21 oncology nurses, 12 medical oncologists, and 5 radiation oncologists) were interviewed individually or in focus groups about their experiences communicating with patients from minority backgrounds. The interviews were audio taped and analysed thematically.ResultsThe majority of participants (82%) reported varying degrees of uncertainty and discomfort regarding working with minority patients, with many barriers to communication encountered. Participants perceived that minority patients received less emotional support than majority group patients. They experienced challenges in balancing beliefs about patient autonomy with cultural differences regarding the role of the family. Strategies employed by participants to facilitate interactions included: modifying speech, taking more time in consultations, rapport building, and using nonverbal techniques.ConclusionsOncology HPs encounter many linguistic and cultural barriers when communicating with minority patients. They need formal training tailored to developing culturally competent communication. Oncology nurses and oncologists could benefit from formal communication skills training focused upon cultural competence during their career development programs.

KW - Oncology nurses, Health professionals, Minorities, Communication skills, Cultural competence

U2 - 10.1016/j.ejon.2016.12.001

DO - 10.1016/j.ejon.2016.12.001

M3 - Article

VL - 26

SP - 83

EP - 90

JO - European Journal of Oncology Nursing

JF - European Journal of Oncology Nursing

SN - 1462-3889

ER -